We all know that Hawaii is a beautiful place and has a culture that spans back many centuries. They have their own symbols and languages. It is essentially a country to itself with many symbols that represent what they are all about. This is why many people decide to get tattooed with imagery that is from Hawaii. The wildlife, most notably, is the topic of many of these tattoos. In this case, the Hawaiian flowers are a very popular choice when getting a tattoo. There is something special about the flowers in Hawaii that just give you the feeling of being in paradise.
While the Hibiscus is the main flower of Hawaii and often chosen for tattoos, there are other flowers that are popular choices for tattoos as well. In this post we will dig into the Hibiscus flower and talk about the meaning. We will also talk about the other variations of the Hawaiian flower tattoos and talk about the meaning behind some of the different choices. We hope you have a good idea of what you want after reading this post.
Hibiscus Flower Tattoo
Hawaiian imagery is a signifier of island life, calling to mind the calm, cooling ocean breezes, sandy beaches, and laidback lifestyle. The hibiscus flower is the most commonly used image of Hawaiian flora, the yellow hibiscus being Hawaii’s state flower. While hibiscus is found and cultivated worldwide, there are several varieties of the flower that are native to the state. The natural colors of these native flowers are white (the most fragrant and rare), yellow (the official state flower), vibrant red, pink, and a flower whose petals are bright white but fade to a soft pink along the petal. Each of the varieties symbolize the serenity of Hawaii and serve as a beautiful reminder of the island.
Alone or as a field for a larger piece, Hawaiian flowers create beautiful imagery with bright and bold colors. Greyscale is used as well, often with the addition of swirling line work or other designs to enhance the image. Simple black lines also work well to create the image of the flower, usually used for smaller tattoos. These flowers can be rendered quite small with less detail and brighter colors and placed in a smaller area such as the hand, neck, or behind the ear.
Additions to the Hawaiian Flower Tattoo
Birds, often hummingbirds (although there are no hummingbirds found in Hawaii), are included with the flowers for a more complete flora and fauna design. Bees, dragonflies, butterflies and other insects are added as well. To enhance an ocean theme, the hibiscus can be accompanied by a sea turtle or used as the body of a turtle in a line work design, combining the turtle and flower into one symbol.
Additionally, the flowers work well with a tribal style tattoo, recalling the tattooing roots of the Polynesians. Petals are often rendered with tribal patterns, along with large leaves of the same design. Black and white is used for these images although hints of color can be added, usually with softer tones for the flowers.
Hawaiian Flower Tattoo Variations
Now while all these flowers aren’t indigenous to Hawaii, they are well known to be there and remind visitors of Hawaii. The flowers below are often chosen to represent a Hawaii themed tattoo and they represent the beauty of the island.
Plumeria Flower Tattoo
There aren’t many other flowers that remind people of the islands of Hawaii like the plumeria. Even though the plumeria isn’t native to Hawaii, the flower is still reminiscent of Hawaii and is often used in Hawaiian themed tattoos. The plumeria is often worn on top of the ear to symbolize the status of their relationship. If the plumeria is over your right ear, it means you’re single. If it is over the left, it means you’re taken.
If you are wondering why the plumeria is considered a Hawaiian flower, it’s because it was introduced to the islands by a botanist from Germany in 1860. This being the case, the plumeria has been on the islands for a very long time and used by natives symbolically. The flower thrives in Hawaii because of the volcanic soil. Today you have many varieties of plumeria unique to Hawaii.
The plumeria tattoo is not only going to catch the eyes of those looking but it will give off the genuine feeling of the islands.
Birds of Paradise Flower Tattoo
This tropical flower really gives you the feeling of island life. It is originally a native flower of South Africa but is now a very popular flower in Hawaii with it’s the look of a bird flying through the air. This flower is long lasting and is looks very exotic.
In the 1940’s, a famous floral artist named Georgia O’Keefe painted one of her most famous works of art called “White Bird of Paradise” and she painted it after the birds of paradise flower in Hawaii.
These flowers can be found all over Hawaii. Whether it is in a flower shop or nursery or along some of the beautiful hikes and waterfalls of Hawaii, these flowers will remind you of the time you had in Hawaii.
Pikake Flower Tattoo
Pikake is the Hawaiian name for Jasmine and actually translates to the word “peacock”. This flower was a favorite of the Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani. The name of the flower comes from the princess and she named it after her favorite bird. Pikaki gives off a scent that is now considered of the signature smells of Hawaii. It symbolizes growing together and strength.
This being said, if a flower was named after the princess of Hawaii, who can tell you this isn’t a great Hawaiian flower tattoo that you should have inked on your body. This flower is great as the centerpiece of your tattoo or as filler.
Ohia Lehua Flower Tattoo
This plant is brightly colored and looks as tropic as you can get. For you your next Hawaiian flower tattoo, this would be a great choice if you love exotic and bright flowers. Five species of this plant are present in the islands of Hawaii and it is known as the first plant to grow on the lava flows after a volcano has erupted. The Ohia Lehua flower symbolizes a sort of toughness and beauty at the same time. To be able to grow where it does and be the first to do it says a lot about this flower.
There is a legend about this flower because of its propensity to grow on lava. The story says there was a man named Ohia and he happened to catch the eye of Pele, the volcano goddess. Ohia wasn’t interested in Pele because his heart was set on a woman named Lehua. Pele was furious and turned Ohia into an old, beat up tree. Lehua pleaded with the gods to turn him back but the gods didn’t want to upset Pele, so they made a compromise and turned Lehua into a blossom that grew on the ohia tree. It is said if you pick one of the flowers off the tree it will rain as the rain represents the tears of the lovers being separated.
Naupaka Flower Tattoo
The naupaka flower is native to the Hawaii islands and they are known for their unique shape and their wonderful smell. You will find these flowers growing on hiking trails and beaches on all of the islands.
This flower happens to have its own legend behind it as well. It was said that a lovely Hawaiian princess with the name of Naupaka had fallen in love with someone not of royal blood and she was told she could not be with him. They were told to go into the mountains where they would find a priest and he could offer them advise on how they could be together. When they got there, the priest wasn’t able to help them so Naupaka tore the flower in her ear in half and told her lover to take his half to the beach and she would stay in the mountains.
This is why you will find two different looking variations of the naupaka flower. One resides on the beach and one in the mountains and they both look as if they’ve been torn in half.